For the past couple of years we've noticed a shift in focus of dominant players in the smartphone space. As the smartphone market moves from rapid expansion to a maturing phase, the companies on top don't want to be left behind in the same way the notebook PC vendors were at the start of the smartphone/tablet race.

At the same time, continued reduction in transistor feature sizes and power consumption have enabled a new class of low power SoC. ARM's product offerings in particular extend both up and down the power curve. There's Cortex M for ultra low power devices, often perfect for wearables, and then a range of Cortex A CPUs for higher end wearables all the way up to smartphones, tablets and eventually servers. 

Initial successes in the wearables space were specialized pieces of hardware. For example, pedometers and health trackers like the Fitbits of the world. Most of these designs leverage Cortex M series CPU cores. More recently however we've seen a more serious push into the world of smart watches. Initial plays here were more disorganized in terms of hardware and OS selection, but we're beginning to see some consolidation on the heels of Google's Android Wear announcement. 

At last month's Google IO we saw the first official Android Wear devices launch from LG and Samsung. Later this summer we'll also see the arrival of the Moto 360, an arguably much more appealing Android Wear device thanks to a greater focus on design. I've spent the past couple of weeks with LG's G Watch and am still toying with the best way to present my thoughts on the device. In short it seems like a great platform if you're a developer, but honestly lacks the battery life (I measured under 9 hours of actual use, display on but dimmed on a single charge) and feature set today to really convince me as a consumer.

Last month we soft launched our new Wearables content section at AnandTech, with ARM graciously agreeing to be a launch sponsor. ARM's support will allow us to likely do some wearable giveaways in the not too distant future too.

The path to wearable computing becoming something more substantial however demands a lot of things to change. If we're talking about watches we need better battery life, the functionality needs to improve as well (although I am impressed by some of what's already been introduced for Android Wear). I'm curious to get your thoughts on the wearable space. What would it take for you to add yet another computing platform to your life? Is anyone out there waiting for the perfect smart watch? I know I stopped wearing watches nearly a decade ago, and to go back I'll likely need quite a bit of convincing in terms of a great product.

If you've got thoughts on this space, we'd love to hear them as they'll help shape our coverage going forward. Leave your comments below.

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  • arsena1 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    No wearables for me, thanks. Some people have commented that "when watches can replace phones then I'll bite". But it seems to me that one of the biggest features of smartphones these days is the camera. Watches aren't going to replace phones unless you give it a great camera and some way to take photos without contorting your arms and looking like a total doofus in the process. And no thanks to all of the voice-controlled stuff, that's just annoying....
  • tarqsharq - Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - link

    I could see them mounting the camera lens on the side, so taking a picture in front of you is just a matter of holding your watch like you're adjusting the time, looking at the screen to see what it's viewing, and clicking?

    How are they implementing the camera now? Front facing?
  • Alexey291 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    The short: Waste of time

    The long:

    Its been said time and again that a watch was a necessity created by the fact that one needed a time piece. Now we have that and MUCH more in a phone. And this shows. How many people never wore a watch again ever since they got a smartphone I wonder? I'd bet that its an overwhelming majority...

    Its the much more that makes the phone a much better watch than the watch itself. Big screen, all the functions of a smartphone, sufficient battery. All in relative safety of a pocket, as opposed to being exposed on a wrist. The amount of watches I've damaged and broke over the years can't be easily counted... I have so far broken 0 smartphones.

    On the other hand we have an extension for a phone (how is it even a "smartwatch" if its just an extension for your phone?) with a tiny screen and a barely sufficient battery. Yes one can talk to one's own wrist. And yes it makes one look somewhat... mentally defficient, especially when Gnow fails to understand you...

    Oh and I will repeat the point about the small screen. There's a reason why smartphones have on average (across the world) a screen around 4", there's a reason why there is a tendency towards bigger screens in every segment of the smartphone market. And now we have this tiny... wonder...

    Ah well its TL:DR already anyway...
  • barleyguy - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I have no interest in watches, smart or otherwise. My last watch was a Casio Disco in about 1987. I've been tempted to track one of those down just for retro nerdy coolness. But overall, I feel too connected already, as opposed to not connected enough. When I quit working in technology I'll probably quit carrying a cell phone. I didn't have one until 2004 when my brother bought me one as a gift (or so he could reach me).
  • StormyParis - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Forcing myself to answer because I'm not motivated by the topic...

    I've disabled all notications on ly phone except for one messaging app that's for close family and friends. So i take my phone out when I want it, not when it wants me to.
    I'm not counting how many steps I walk/run/swim daily.
    My headphones let me control my mudic already...

    I'm only interested in 2 wearables:
    - an ID one, that replaces all my logins, PINs and keys
    - a smartglasses one, that replaces my smartphone and tablet with glasses, so I can read/listen to Anandtech while doing the dishes.

    I'm not holding my breath for either. And I'm not spending the price of a smartphone to get notifixations on my wrist. I might spend a quarter of tje price of a smartphone to NOT get most notifications.
  • Deadeye37 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Personally, I would like a good looking smart watch that doesn't break the bank and is very durable. I don't want an ugly piece of crap watch that dies halfway through the day, or the screen cracks when I bump into something. Its got to be as durable as my current wrist watch.
  • Gadgety - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    I think durability from a hardiness stand point will be decent. However, because tech marches on, particularly in terms of frugality/autonomy, but also OS, and compatibility with the phone, the smart watch will be a consumable, so I'm expecting an average product life of approximately 2 years, expecting to spend $120 a year on replacement cost.
  • Roland00Address - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    * Needs to be sub <$100
    * Needs to respond to voice commands
    * Needs to be able to be usable for something more than notifications, such as directions, using it as a remote, time piece, etc. In other words its a way to manipulate your environment while connecting to technology, your phone, and/or the internet
    * Needs to be viewable outside in bright sun
    * Needs to be viewable indoors when the place is extremely dark
    * Needs to get more than 72 hours use with a single charge of battery

    In other words I am very intrigued by the current products, but I think it is way too soon for me personally getting one.
  • Notmyusualid - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I'm loving my Gear 2...

    I have it ignore email notifications, so when my phone beeps, and my watch doesn't, I know its not an sms, or not urgent. Good at dinner parties, for not interrupting conversation.

    If I'm up in the racking running a new fiber, I can take the call on my wrist (if a very important person) and tell them I'll call them back etc.

    When driving a car that is not mine - I can also take the call without getting effed-over for using a phone whilst driving, and again, deal with it later.

    So easy to read the time, and nice to wander around the house without my phone in my pocket, and not miss an important call etc.

    Two full days on battery though. (Shame) and I don't like the charging adapter you have to use either. You can't plug the micro USB into the device itself. So if out and about, you cannot recharge it without having this small adapter with you.

    The sleep / pedometer / other health stuff turned out to be more interesting than I had given it credit for.

    I too will now wear a smartwatch for the rest of my life too.
  • pikles - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I see wearables going somewhere. Too bad that won't be my wrist or anywhere else on me. Maybe, I'll change my mind in a year or two if these wearables actually do something I want.

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